Veterans to be honored during performances

Published 6:54 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Pride, patriotism, gratitude and grand odes to military veterans will be on the program as a decades-long musical tradition returns to Beaufort County.

“We’re back!” exulted Ellen Ratcliffe, a member of the Beaufort County Community Orchestra, and vice chair of its board of directors. After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the orchestra will perform the first of two concerts at 7 p.m. in the Turnage Theater on Thursday, Nov. 11, which is Veterans’ Day.  The second performance will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14 at the Sidney Free Will Baptist Church in Sidney, near Belhaven. There is no ticket charge for either concert. Masks are encouraged but optional at the Turnage, and simply optional at the church.

This year’s second performance is new to the group’s schedule, which has traditionally included Christmas and springtime concerts as well as the veterans’ appreciation event. “There are a lot of people in Hyde County, Pantego, and the Belhaven area who would love to hear it. Not everyone can come to town. We wanted to give folks outside of Washington a chance to appreciate the music and honor our veterans.  I don’t think we can do enough to salute them,” said Rebecca Clayton, also an orchestra member and chairperson of the group’s board of directors.

Three orchestra members will be among the veterans honored: french horn player and Viet Nam veteran Richard Cooper, trumpet / french horn player and former Air Force pilot Don Good, and Brian Miller, a trumpet player and former Navy submarine veteran. A presentation by the color guard of Disabled American Veterans’ Beaufort County Chapter 48 will begin both performances.

Led by conductor and celebrated violinist Christopher Ellis, the military themed selections will include “everything patriotic from ‘America The Beautiful’, ‘God Bless America’, ‘Armed Forces on Parade’ and more, to ‘Nettleton’, from which the melody for ‘Come Thou Font Of Every Blessing’ was inspired,” Clayton said, “plus all the military division hymns except for the Space Force, because they don’t have one yet.”

Also participating will be the orchestra’s “Suzuki Children”, which is Clayton’s nickname for almost 40 youngsters attending First Light Violin Studios in Washington, which teaches with the “suzuki method” that includes lessons for the childrens’ parents. Clayton credited Beaufort County resident Doris Hamilton, who was using the method for her students in the 1990s, with convincing several of their mothers to form “The Apron Strings’, a string quartet that grew to orchestra size by the year 2000.